Agents visit Davidian site 15 years after botched raid

WACO, Texas — About a dozen federal agents visited the former Branch Davidian compound site Thursday, 15 years after a botched raid began an armed standoff with authorities and didn’t end until a deadly inferno 51 days later.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms planned a surprise raid on the religious sect’s compound near Waco on Feb. 28, 1993, trying to arrest leader David Koresh for stockpiling weapons and explosives. But gunfire immediately erupted, killing four agents and six Davidians.

ATF Agents Raiding Waco Compound.

That led to a 51-day standoff, during which time 21 children and 14 adults left the compound unharmed.

But the complex caught fire and burned to the ground on April 19, 1993, killing Koresh and nearly 80 of his followers, including about two dozen children.

The government claims the Davidians committed suicide by setting the fire and shooting themselves. But survivors say the blaze was started by tear gas rounds fired into the compound by government tanks, and that agents shot them — even those fleeing the burning building.

On Thursday, some law officers stopped by the site in a rural area outside the city to pay their respects to the fallen agents. Then they went to a service, attended by about 100 people, at a law enforcement memorial site in Waco, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported in its Thursday online edition.

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AP, via the Houston Chronicle, USA
Feb. 29, 2008

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This post was last updated: Feb. 29, 2008